San Leandro Creek
Arroyo de San Leandro, Rio San Leandro[1]
The upper watershed of San Leandro Creek is densely forested and rugged, in contrast with its highly-urbanized lower reaches (January 3rd, 2023)
San Leandro Creek is located in California
San Leandro Creek
Location of the mouth of San Leandro Creek in California
CountryUnited States
RegionAlameda County, Contra Costa County
CitySan Leandro, California
Physical characteristics
 • locationeast of Oakland, California
 • coordinates37°50′47″N 122°11′43″W / 37.84639°N 122.19528°W / 37.84639; -122.19528[2]
 • elevation1,140 ft (350 m)
MouthSan Francisco Bay
 • location
Oakland, California, just north of Oakland International Airport
 • coordinates
37°44′34″N 122°12′28″W / 37.74278°N 122.20778°W / 37.74278; -122.20778[2]
 • elevation
0 ft (0 m)
Basin features
 • leftIndian Creek, Moraga Creek, Buckhorn Creek, Kaiser Creek, Miller Creek
 • rightRedwood Creek, Grass Valley Creek

San Leandro Creek (Spanish: Arroyo de San Leandro) is a 21.7-mile-long (34.9 km) year-round natural stream in the hills above Oakland in Alameda County and Contra Costa County of the East Bay in northern California.[3]


It flows along the east face of the hills, east of Oakland and San Leandro. It runs into Upper San Leandro Reservoir and then Lake Chabot, both reservoirs are North of the unincorporated town of Castro Valley. It then flows through the city of San Leandro, and after crossing Hegenberger Road just north of Oakland International Airport on into San Leandro Bay of San Francisco Bay.


Although it is channeled and culverted in places, it is remarkable among East Bay streams for being mostly uncovered throughout most of its course. It is joined by Indian Creek, and then at Upper San Leandro Reservoir it is joined by Moraga Creek, Redwood Creek, Buckhorn Creek and Kaiser Creek, then just below the spillway by Miller Creek. At Lake Chabot in Anthony Chabot Regional Park it is joined by Grass Valley Creek, then descends to San Leandro Bay.[4]

The Redwood Creek tributary is protected by Redwood Regional Park, which contains the largest remaining natural stand of coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) found in the East Bay.[5]

The creek terminates in Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland, one of the few marshlands left in the East Bay. The marsh formed in San Leandro Bay between 1855 and 1895 from sediments washed down San Leandro Creek during construction of the Lake Chabot dam and also from the logging of the San Antonio Forest.[6]


Rainbow trout species identified
Location50 yards past Redwood Gate entrance kiosk,
Redwood Regional Park
Reference no.970[7]

San Leandro Creek was formerly named Arroyo de San Leandro, likely named by the Spanish for St. Leander, 6th-century archbishop of Seville, "Apostle of the Goths".[1] It was crossed by El Camino Viejo now, State Route 185.

The creek is known for having been the site of the first rainbow trout hatchery in the world, drawing on the locally native variety of the species. The fish raised in this hatchery were sent as far away as New York.[8] Although rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), was initially identified in 1792 in Kamchatka, Siberia by Johann Julius Walbaum, William P. Gibbons, founder of the California Academy of Sciences, believed in 1855 that he had discovered a new species of trout in San Leandro Creek, which he named Salmo iridea (now the coastal rainbow trout subspecies Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus).[5][9] The site was then declared a California Historical Landmark.[7]

In 1874 work began on Lake Chabot Dam and it was completed in 1875, forming a 315-acre (127 ha) lake. Lake Chabot serves as a standby emergency water supply but was opened to limited recreation in the 1960s.[10] Four miles upstream, a second dam built in 1926 formed San Leandro Reservoir.


It sustains the redwood groves in the unincorporated town of Canyon, California and was formerly lined with numerous oaks and willows in its lower course.

Historical records indicate that Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) occurred in at least two San Francisco Bay Area watersheds, San Leandro Creek in Alameda County, and San Mateo Creek in San Mateo County.[11] In the 1870s, “quinnant”, or Chinook salmon were reported from lower San Leandro Creek and persisted in Lake Chabot for several years following the completion of Lake Chabot Dam in 1875.[12] California Department of Fish and Game Warden George Smalley reported runs of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus) in San Leandro Creek “…in the early days” and “…that after the completion of the Upper San Leandro Reservoir a run still persisted to the base of the dam for many years”. Leidy considered this single historical account of coho in the creek "reliable...since we believe that suitable habitat was present in the watershed."[13] As mentioned above, Gibbons discovered rainbow trout in San Leandro Creek in 1855. Thus, three species of Oncorhynchus once inhabited San Leandro Creek.

Today, Lake Chabot's rainbow trout are hatchery fish, but the rainbow trout in San Leandro Reservoir are descended from native steelhead which were trapped when San Leandro Dam was constructed on Redwood Creek in 1926. The San Leandro trout have maintained genetic integrity with native coastal rainbow trout since they have not been mixed with hatchery trout, and were used in a 1983 reintroduction of steelhead to Wildcat Creek in Tilden Regional Park.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b Gudde, Erwin G.; Bright, William (2004). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. p. 339. ISBN 9780520242173. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: San Leandro Creek
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 15, 2011
  4. ^ "San Leandro Area Historical Creek Map". Oakland Museum. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  5. ^ a b Redwood Regional Park, East Bay Regional Parks District
  6. ^ Richard, Christopher. "Arrowhead Marsh & Lake Chabot". Oakland Museum. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  7. ^ a b c "Rainbow trout species identified". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
  8. ^ About Trout: The Best of Robert J. Behnke from Trout Magazine By Robert J. Behnke, Ted Williams
  9. ^ Coombs, Trey (1999). Steelhead Fly Fishing. Globe Pequot. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-55821-903-8. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  10. ^ "Lake Chabot Regional Park". East Bay Regional Park District. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  11. ^ Leidy, Robert A. (2007). Ecology, Assemblage Structure, Distribution, and Status of Fishes in Streams Tributary to the San Francisco Estuary, California (Report). San Francisco Estuary Institute. Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  12. ^ Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries of the State of California for the years 1878 and 1879 (Report). San Francisco, California: California Commissioners of Fisheries. 1880.
  13. ^ Leidy, Robert A.; Becker, Gordon; Harvey, Brett N. (2005). "Historical Status of Coho Salmon in the San Francisco Estuary" (PDF). California Fish and Game: 241. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  14. ^ "Lake Chabot Offers Monster Rainbows In The East Bay Hills". The Fish Sniffer. 2009-06-02. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2010-10-23.